May 14, 2012

APL’s prosthetic limb on cover of ‘Popular Mechanics’

The Modular Prosthetic Limb developed by Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory is featured on the cover of the May issue of Popular Mechanics. The monthly magazine, which chronicles emerging technology and innovation, has a circulation of more than 1.2 million readers.

“For 110 years, Popular Mechanics has been examining people’s relationship with technology, always with an eye to what the future will bring,” said Jennifer Bogo, senior editor for science at the magazine. “The modular prosthetic arm fits at that intersection beautifully: It’s demonstrating today the sci-fi world where cutting-edge bionics will one day lead.”

The MPL is the crowning achievement of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, launched in 2006 to create a neurally controlled artificial limb that will restore full motor and sensory capability to upper-extremity amputees. It has nearly the same number of degrees of freedom as the human arm, and it was designed to adapt to varying degrees of amputations.

The prosthetic arm was controlled for the first time by electrical impulses from the brain at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Continuing clinical evaluations are paving the way for additional tests at UPMC and the California Institute of Technology involving patients with upper spinal cord injuries in order to explore different control methods.